Jairam Ramesh has fired another salvo. This time, it has hit the Yamuna river. Two structures standing tall on the Yamuna riverbed — Akshardham Temple constructed without environment clearance and Commonwealth Games Villages that got environment approval — should not have been built there, environment minister Jairam Ramesh said.
The Akshardham Temple was constructed during the NDA regime and the Commonwealth Games village during the UPA government’s tenure, on the fragile Yamuna riverbed, despite protests by environment groups.
“I think they should not have come up there,” Ramesh said, while making it clear that no such construction should be allowed on the riverbed in future.
To ensure that such violations don’t take place any more, the ministry is coming up with River Regulation Zone (RRZ) guidelines, that would impose restrictions on development at riverfronts across India.
Ramesh made it clear that the Akshardham temple, spread over 30 acres on the riverbed, never applied for environment clearance. However, he expressed helplessness in initiating any action.
“It has already happened. We cannot do anything now.
We cannot demolish the temple now”.
The temple, a popular religious and tourist spot in Delhi, was inaugurated on November 6, 2005.
The Commonwealth Games Village, next to the Akshardham temple in east Delhi, got clearance from the ministry, which was later upheld by the Supreme Court.
The minister was critical of his own ministry when he said that the village should not have given environment clearance. When asked why he did not raise the issue before the games, Ramesh replied it would have created a lot of problems in organising the Games.
Both the projects highlighted the syndrome of the government violating its own norms in the name of public interest.